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Food and Divorce in the NY Times

Stamford Talk Apr 5, 2008 05:03 AM

In this weekend's Modern Love column, a woman writes about how her and her husband's food routines mirrored the decline of their marriage. Chowhounds know that food is a big part of marriage, so here it is:


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  1. meatn3 RE: Stamford Talk Apr 5, 2008 10:30 PM

    Thanks for posting the link. Excellent read.

    12 Replies
    1. re: meatn3
      Claire RE: meatn3 Apr 6, 2008 01:34 PM

      The writer really beat the concept to death. I thought the story was a bore.

      1. re: Claire
        NYCkaren RE: Claire Apr 6, 2008 02:04 PM

        Claire, I agree with you. I always read the Modern Love column and I found this one pretty silly.

        1. re: NYCkaren
          HungryRubia RE: NYCkaren Apr 6, 2008 02:20 PM

          I couldn't even finish it.

          1. re: HungryRubia
            MMRuth RE: HungryRubia Apr 6, 2008 02:37 PM

            There was another piece in the NYT recently - don't know if it was in this column - about a woman cooking for her dying husband, I think. That one touched me. This one kind of beat me over the head.

            1. re: MMRuth
              Agent Orange RE: MMRuth Apr 7, 2008 08:37 PM

              Might you be referring to an article from the same NYT column,
              'Modern Love'? There was one published last week called "How We Went from Grief to Pancakes" or something like that. Whether it's the same piece, I don't know, but it was an excellent article that I found very moving, having just lost a parent unexpectedly less than two months ago. There's little to do with cooking or food, except that the writer mentions how she was comforted by the smell of her freshly-purchased basil during the months of her husband's dying.

              1. re: Agent Orange
                MMRuth RE: Agent Orange Apr 8, 2008 04:35 AM

                I don't think that was it - I'll keep looking - http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/30/fas...

                I'm sorry about your parent.

            2. re: HungryRubia
              mrsjenpeters RE: HungryRubia Apr 11, 2008 10:55 AM

              i finished it and i'm sorry i did. it was horrid. interesting concept, terrible execution. i thought the writing was just plain bad - i could understand where she was trying to get but half the time i was thinking, why did she say it like THAT??

              plus i got the feeling she feels it was all his fault... he's cheating (long lunches) and sure she's let herself go but gee it's all in the name of being the perfect mother. gag me with a spoon.

              my husband, on the other hand, can still make me swoon in the kitchen. :)

              1. re: mrsjenpeters
                ClaireWalter RE: mrsjenpeters Apr 12, 2008 05:11 PM

                Re "The writer really beat the concept to death." Maybe she did, but if she was contractually obligated to write an entire book, she really did have to stretch and pad where she could. That, to some readers, would be beatin it to death -- and it is possible that style spilled over into her essay. Just a thought.

                1. re: ClaireWalter
                  Claire RE: ClaireWalter Apr 13, 2008 01:57 PM

                  If the writer had to "stretch and pad where she could" maybe an entire book is asking too much? And if the strain of all that padding "spilled over into her essay," well, maybe the conceit of the book (the food as metaphore for the dwindling interest of the partners) doesn't work--at least that writer couldn't make it work.

                  1. re: Claire
                    ClaireWalter RE: Claire Apr 13, 2008 07:24 PM

                    To Claire (and others) from Claire - When a writer gets a book contract, it is for a certain number of words. If an author tells his/her editor that there "isn't enough" for the agreed-up and contractually signed length, some editors will make adjustments but others want it written anyway. It an upcoming book appears in a publisher's catalog, on amazon/com and elsewhere as being a certain number of pages, that's what it will be. I don't know whether this was the case here, but it wouldn't surprise me.

                    1. re: ClaireWalter
                      Claire RE: ClaireWalter Apr 14, 2008 05:32 AM

                      It wouldn't surprise me either ClaireWalter, but so what? Should we say, because a writer has a certain number of words to supply it's okay if they're badly chosen?

                      1. re: Claire
                        Caitlin McGrath RE: Claire Apr 15, 2008 11:33 AM

                        The book was about the ending of the marriage; this was one essay from it - I doubt the whole book hinged on the concept of disinterest in food as metaphor for the state of the marriage. I didn't like the piece either, mostly because I really disliked the author's voice, which I found somewhat precious.

      2. meatn3 RE: Stamford Talk Apr 6, 2008 10:16 PM

        I thought the author captured that slow asphyxiation that can occur without the parties ever really being able to identify a cause. The use of food reflecting the stages worked for me. I could definitely relate to the unfortunate process on a few different levels.

        I have kept a combo recipe-menu notebook of the time together with my SO. Looking back over it (it doesn't contain "diary" type notations) I can see the ebb & flow of time periods just by reading what we ate. The food choices reflect the pace, the occasion or lack of, seasonality, economic states and emotional states. Not being a story teller, I was intrigued with the idea someone could read a notebook like this and perhaps pull a story from its raw (and cooked :) !) material.

        1 Reply
        1. re: meatn3
          Claire RE: meatn3 Apr 7, 2008 06:10 AM

          There was nothing wrong with the concept meatn3. But it should be applied subtly throughout the story, not in a way that forced. It's not the reader who should experience a "slow asphyxiation."

        2. j
          jeanmarieok RE: Stamford Talk Apr 7, 2008 09:16 AM

          I thought it was a little too dark. And she made living in the 'middle' sound dreary and just plain grim. Marriage isn't a fairy tale, it's the whole up and down and growing together throughout the struggle. Maybe if she would have learned to cook with him, and didn't think it was OK to try to escape, there would be a different ending!

          1. a
            AnneBird RE: Stamford Talk Apr 7, 2008 01:54 PM

            I read the piece and thought it wasn't bad. It used a lot of very personal symbolism, which I liked when combined with the modern writing...

            1. Passadumkeg RE: Stamford Talk Apr 10, 2008 02:56 AM

              Made me feel good about my marriage. Just to be picky, but this is the NYT, doesn't one butterfly a leg of lamb and French a rack?

              1. g
                gloriousfood RE: Stamford Talk Apr 12, 2008 07:20 AM

                I couldn't finish it, it was so dull.

                1. choctastic RE: Stamford Talk Apr 13, 2008 09:52 PM

                  I just thought it was interesting that in the beginning she would hide the takeout counters and pass off the food as her own.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: choctastic
                    meatn3 RE: choctastic Apr 13, 2008 11:09 PM

                    That struck me too - didn't seem like a good basis for beginning a relationship. Actually seemed like an episode of "Sex in the City"!

                  2. g
                    gyp7318 RE: Stamford Talk Apr 14, 2008 03:56 AM

                    I actually enjoyed the article. I thought it was terribly bittersweet and showed in albeit great detail how a relationship that started off w/such enthusiasm slowly declined and the couple ended up as complete strangers. I also thought it was an interesting premise, to show this through a food slant.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: gyp7318
                      MsDiPesto RE: gyp7318 Apr 14, 2008 10:55 AM

                      I liked it too, and as someone who will be losing their dream kitchen in the divorce, I could identify with bits and pieces of it. The long slow loss of specialness and celebration is something that happens in every marriage as the mundane replaces the discovery part.

                      1. re: MsDiPesto
                        gyp7318 RE: MsDiPesto Apr 15, 2008 04:56 AM

                        While I've never been married or lengthy relationship, I definitely know the heady days of the beginnings of a romance where food somehow moves to the back of my mind. Earlier this year, I completely lost my mind over this guy I was seeing and while dining out in nice end restaurants, I ended up losing 4.5 lbs in one week alone. When things ended badly not long afterwards, I gained back those 4.5 lbs and then added an extra 2 for good measure. :)

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